Famous actor Johnny Depp is quoted for saying, “People cry, not because they are weak. It is because they’ve been strong for too long.” Crying has become synonymous with weakness. This is especially true for those who come into recovery not having felt or processed their emotions in many years. It takes a remarkable amount of strength and endurance to hold in that much pain and that many emotions for so many years. Perhaps, it wasn’t safe to cry and feel. Survival from any kind of threat, real or perceived, doesn’t allow much time for vulnerability outside of the obvious- trying to stay alive and stay safe. Those who develop addiction or alcoholism commonly do so as a coping mechanism and a means to survive. To complicate matters, addiction and alcoholism become matters of survival. Quite literally, the rewiring of the brain which takes place in the midbrain places drugs and alcohol at the top of the human survival order of operations list.
Crying is a sign of vulnerability- healthy vulnerability. Vulnerability is not the same as weakness, at least emotionally. Emotional vulnerability actually strengthens you to feel your feelings and express them in a healthy way. If you’re new to recovery or thinking about recovery, you’re probably thinking this is nonsense. It doesn’t make very much sense until you experience it, especially through you first good cry. Once the dam walls break and you finally let it all out, it is a transformative experience. You’ve done such a good job keeping yourself safe and holding it together. In treatment and recovery, you’re finally able to let it all go. You’re finally able to be free.
There’s a lot of crying in recovery because crying is the way we process feelings. Recovery comes with a lot of feelings- all of them. You cry for joy, you cry for sadness, you cry for healing, you cry for pain. One contributor to Refinery29 writes that “Crying as a cathartic practice is a very old idea, but recent research, for the most part, backs it up. Shedding emotional tears has been found to boost people’s moods and relieve stress- some studies suggest that crying even prompts endorphin production.”
Crying releases feelings of instant gratification. Overtime, believe it or not, you’re going to tell yourself “I think I need to cry” instead of telling yourself “I need to get drunk or high.”
Your path to recovery starts here. If you bring the honesty, we’ll bring the tissues. Lakehouse Recovery Center proudly offers a unique residential treatment program designed for clinical healing to support your journey to learning how to love your life again. For more information or to schedule a tour, call 877.762.3707.